Favorite Historical Fiction Novels: World War II

Favorite Historical Fiction Novels: World War II

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Hands down, my favorite genre of books to read is historical fiction. Growing up, about every other book I read was a historical fiction novel, alternated with Nancy Drew mysteries and other typical young adult reads. Ann Rinaldi wrote some of the most entertaining and relatable historical fiction novels that I read as a young girl. Does anyone else remember The Fifth of March or Finishing Becca? Anyone…? It is safe to say that without her novels and many others, like L.M. Elliott’s Annie, Between the States for example, I may not have loved historical fiction quite as much as I did and still do. (My roommate feels the same way!) It is safe to say that if I ever sit down and try to write a book, which sounds more and more appealing each and every day, it would a historical fiction novel. My favorite time periods to read about are (1) the American Revolution; (2) the Civil War; (3) Tudor England; and (4) World War II. My fascination with historical fiction novels has continued into adulthood and I’ve (relatively) recently read some incredible ones I want to share with you. I’m thinking this might turn into a series I post about every now and then, where I break down my list of favorite novels by time period into separate posts. This is part one of a TBD number of posts. I hope you enjoy this first installment about World War II-era novels and that maybe you’ll add a book or two to your to-read lists!

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn// I cannot say enough good things about this novel. It had me engrossed within the first two sentences and I could not put it down to save my life. (Each morning before work I would set my alarm to go off an extra 20 minutes before I needed to get up just so I had a bit more time to read this book.) Charlie St. Clair finds herself pregnant and unmarried post-World War II, and is in search of one of her best friends and cousin, Rose. She sets off for London, where she meets Eve Gardiner, who was a spy for the Alice Network during World War I. Together, the two of them embark on a journey together, though each is looking for her own type of closure. The format and writing of the novel were some of the best I have ever experienced, and each major character had a powerful story to tell. I could not put this book down and was truly sad when it was over!
Goodreads stars: 5/5 (AKA I hope you’re already on your way to your local library/Barnes & Noble/used bookstore/Amazon.com account to rent/reserve/purchase it!)

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly // Lilac Girls was a powerful read with articulate, emotional writing that I believe conveys the worries, fears, and overall mood of the women’s time spent at Ravensbruck Concentration Camp, a little known piece of history. Lilac Girls is based on the true story of Caroline Farriday, a New York socialite who fought for Polish women rescued from Ravensbruck. The novel tells the stories of three women – Caroline Farriday, Kasia Kuzmerick – a young Polish teenager – and Herta Oberheuser – an ambitious young German doctor – and how they ultimately converge because of Ravensbruck. As each woman’s story progressed, I was intrigued to see how the pieces of the puzzle would eventually fit together.
Goodreads stars: 4/5 (AKA I truly enjoyed reading it and I highly recommend you add it to your to-read lists!)

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr // This post continues with yet another World War II-era novel, which is shocking because World War II is definitely at the bottom of my favorite historical fiction genres. What can I say? I guess authors have been really doing a phenomenal job with the WWII-era novels recently! All the Light We Cannot See is about a young blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France during World War II. Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris, but soon they must flee to Saint-Malo, a walled city on the water, where her uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. Werner is a young German boy who grows up with his younger sister in a small mining town as an orphan. He becomes an expert at building and fixing radios, and soon is recruited to track down resistance fighters. When I first picked this book up, I thought it was going to be a love story between Werner and Marie-Laure, but what I read was honestly even better than what I anticipated. Instead of a usual significant-other-goes-off-to-war-or-gets-separated-and-they-must-find-each-other-storyline (which don’t get me wrong, I TOTALLY love and appreciate in so many novels), this novel focused on the growth of Werner and Marie-Laure and how they each individually struggled with the war and its consequences.
Goodreads stars: 5/5 (AKA I hope you’re already on your way to your local library/Barnes & Noble/used bookstore/Amazon.com account to rent/reserve/purchase it!)

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah // The last and final entry for this post is a novel I finished in three days and could probably read over and over again. This might be the best book I have read so far in 2018. And that is a bold statement, I would say, because I have read some great books so far this year. The Nightingale is about a pair of sisters in France, Vianne and Isabelle Mauriac, who each play their own part in helping the resistance during WWII. Vianne’s husband, Antoine, is called off to join the war effort, and she is left to care for her family even as an enemy stays under the same roof as her. Meanwhile, Vianne’s rebellious sister Isabelle is heartbroken after meeting a young man who ultimately betrays her, and she finally finds herself as part of a family and with a sense of belonging. Kristin Hannah’s descriptions, dialogues, and storytelling kept me glued to the couch I was on for most of the three days. (Anyone else find that they spend whole weekends reading books? No? Just me? Oh well.) I cannot wait to read Kristin Hannah’s next novel, The Great Alone, which is on my nightstand and ready to be read, just as soon as I finish the four or five books ahead of it.
Goodreads stars: 5/5 (AKA I hope you’re already on your way to your local library/Barnes & Noble/used bookstore/Amazon.com account to rent/reserve/purchase it!)

Please let me know what your favorite World War II-era novels are and I will definitely add them to my list!

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